rahul ranjan’s review published on Letterboxd:
There's bleak, there's bleaker, then there's 'Haneke' (bleakest) and then comes Turtles can fly.
Set in a world that has suffered wars before - the wreckage of them is everywhere, spent shells piled like cord-wood, disabled tanks tossed together like so many discarded toys.
The elders of the village hope that great Army (American Force) will come and remove Saddam Hussein from power.
In such a hopeless world we follow around this anything-but-lonely kid Satellite, and he takes a particular shine to a pretty named Agrin. Agrin is traumatized by Saddam's soldiers, she is far beyond being impressed by anything, and is in fact suicidal. Such bleak themes with child actors is a tough nut to crack even for the greatest of Filmmakers. But Bohman Ghobadi has somehow managed to paint the Harrowing picture of war through the eyes of children and also didn't shy away from diving into the darker psych of the children who suffer war firsthand. And to elicit performances from these young actors (the youngest being three years old) is simply genius.
It is one of the saddest films I have seen, and but it treats the pain of war in an unblinking way, recognizing that some of us simply are not equipped to carry that pain, for reasons that cannot be fathomed.